24 Apr Possible Mechanisms Linking Obesity and COVID-19 Severity
MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Univ.-Prof. Norbert Stefan, MD
-Heisenberg Professorship for
Clinical and Experimental Diabetology
Internal Medicine IV, University of Tübingen
-Head of the Department of Pathophysiology of
Prediabetes at the Institute of Diabetes Research and
Metabolic Diseases (IDM) of the Helmholtz Center Munich
-Visiting Professor Harvard Medical School, Boston, USA
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?
Response: Working in the field of obesity and cardiometabolic diseases my colleagues and I were very surprised that most of the articles reporting data about comorbid conditions, which may be associated with increased risk of severe COVID-19, did not provide data about body fat mass.
Because increased fat mass, and more so higher upper-body fat mass, are known to strongly predict an increased risk of cardiometabolic disease, pneumonia and mortality, we hypothesized that they may also predict a more severe course of COVID-19.
MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?
Response: After carefully screening the most actual peer-reviewed and not yet peer-reviewed articles, we conclude that obesity may put people infected with the novel coronavirus (SARS- CoV-2) at a very high risk for a more severe COVID-19 illness and possibly risk of death.
Importantly, this risk may be independent of comorbidities such as diabetes and hypertension. Furthermore, although such data have not been reported yet, we hypothesize that upper-body obesity and insulin resistance may also be important in this respect, and that they may associate with an elevated risk independently of fat mass.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?
Response: To better estimate the risk of complications in patients with COVID-19, in addition to evaluation of standard hospital parameters (such as the Sequential Organ Failure Assessment, d-dimer and pro- inflammatory markers), the measurement of anthropometrics and metabolic parameters is crucial. These parameters include BMI, waist and hip circumferences and levels of glucose and insulin.
Norbert Stefan et al, Obesity and impaired metabolic health in patients with COVID-19, Nature Reviews Endocrinology (2020). DOI: 10.1038/s41574-020-0364-6
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